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Author: Emily

Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop

Hello, and welcome to the Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop, hosted by the vivacious Cheryl Sleboda! I’m so glad you’re here. Right now, my studio is an explosion of quilt market preparations, a  t-shirt quilt, and an applique quilt UFO from my grandmother. While I thrive in creative mess, this was getting out of hand.  So I’ve been spending a lot of time procrastinating (read: playing online video games) instead of creating. Yea for blog hop motivation!

Here’s a before picture of the studio.  Not much like the lovely clean-up that I posted about in January, is it? (oh, dear. . .actually it looks a LOT like January’s before picture!)

 

Cleaning Tasks

I tend to cover horizontal spaces (like the floor, and my midarm table) when I’m working through projects.  One of my big goals is to keep the midarm table free for basted quilts ONLY. Because when a project is sitting where it belongs, I keep working on it.  When the table is buried in projects, I don’t quilt much.

My second major cleaning task was piecing the t-shirt quilt. Yea for clear floors!

As I was cleaning, I found two of my daughters’ dresses in a pile, needing mending.  So I sat down, mended them, and put them away where they belonged.

Finally, I cleared my cutting table.

So, two days of clean-up (one to piece the t-shirt quilt, and one to wander around, tidying and vacuuming), and now my studio looks like this:

 

Keep it Clean!

Ahh.  Much better. Putting a quilt on the midarm table served two purposes:  a reminder to keep other stuff off the table, and an incentive to quilt that blue quilt, because I need those pins to baste the t-shirt quilt.  Hah!

Confession: behind this camera angle of a neat and tidy studio is an ironing board, piled high with two Quilt Market projects, the t-shirt quilt top with border and backing fabric, and the applique quilt pieces. Fortunately, Cheryl said it was perfectly okay if the entire studio wasn’t cleaned. At least now enough of my workspaces are clear enough for me to get back to work and make some good progress.

Thank you so much for tagging along with my little spring cleaning.  If you’d like tips on how to organize a studio space, be sure to check out the January clean-up post I mentioned earlier.  That included my sources for fabric folding solutions, a great way to hang rulers, and some fun tricks to help motivate you to organize your sewing space. If you’re new to the Caffeinated Quilter, please join in with all my adventures by subscribing to the blog, and/or following me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest. Finally, be sure to check out all the other stops on the Spring Clean Your Studio Blog tour listed below. What’s your favorite tip for keeping a clean studio?

Happy Stitching!

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 1 – Teri Lucas – www.terificreations.com
May 2 – Tammy Silvers – www.tamarinis.typepad.com
May 3 – Emily Breclaw – www.thecaffeinatedquilter.com (You are here!)
May 4 – Amalia Morusiewicz – www.FUNfromAtoZ.com
May 5 – John Kubiniec – www.bigrigquilting.com/blog/
May 6 – Debby Brown – www.higheredhands.blogspot.com
May 7 – Melissa Marie Collins – www.melissamariecollins.blogspot.com
May 8 – Delve MIY – www.fronddesignstudios.wordpress.com
May 9 – Misty Cole – www.mistycole.com
May 10 – Sam Hunter – www.huntersdesignstudio.com/blog
May 11 – Dale Ashera-Davis – www.dalead.wordpress.com
May 12 – Sara Mika – www.mockpiestudio.blogspot.com
May 13 – Sarah Trumpp – www.Wonderstrumpet.com
May 14 – Carma Halterman – www.beanstrings.blogspot.com
May 15 – Jessica Darling – www.jessicakdarling.com
May 16 – Lisa Chin – www.lisachinartist.com
May 17 – Sally Johnson – www.sallysquiltingcorner.blogspot.com
May 18 – Mandy Leins – www.mandalei.com/blog
May 19 – Shruti Dandekar – www.13woodhouseroad.com
May 20 – Jane Davila – www.janedavila.com
May 21 – Ebony Love – www.lovebugstudios.com
May 22 – Cheryl Sleboda – blog.muppin.com

New Pattern: Quandry

Happy Thursday, Friends!  Today I’m so excited to be sharing with you a new pattern, Quandry!

This is an intermediate level foundation paper pieced pattern.  I provide step-by-step directions, lots of diagrams, cutting templates, and of course the printable foundation paper templates.  But if you’re completely new to paper piecing, you may want to look online for basic tutorials to get started.  I love this tutorial from Fresh Lemons quilts.

Quandry measures 53” by 71”, and makes a gorgeous wedding gift.  I need to make a third quilt from this pattern, as the two shown in the pictures have already found new homes with newlywed family members. (I can assure you, this is a MUCH easier wedding gift to make than a double wedding ring!  All straight seams, but you still get the lovely effect of curves!) Isn’t it fun how changing the background fabric from light to dark makes different elements pop?

You can purchase a digital copy of Quandry from UpCraftClub or Craftsy.  This week, it will be discounted 25% in both shops.  For those of you in EU countries, please use the UpCraftClub website, as they are equipped to handle VAT.

What colors will you use to make your Quandry quilt?  Please share in the comments below, and be sure to tag your instagram pictures with #quandryquilt, and tag me, @thecaffeinatedquilter, so we can all see your beautiful work!

Happy Stitching!

Introducing Meteor Shower

Well helllooo there! Another lapse in blogging, although this one’s not entirely my fault.  I upgraded portions of my website, which resulted in me being locked out of my site for days. No fun.  But now, I think, all is well again.  And I know more about websites than I did before.

If you follow me on IG, you know something crazy awesome happened.  The advance copy of my book, Adventures in Hexagons, arrived in my mailbox.  Holding that book in my hot little hands was an amazing experience.  Seeing the little details, like a tiny hexagon on the binding, made me ridiculously happy. It sounds silly.  I know every word and image in that book forwards, backwards, and sideways.  But somehow, seeing it all real and finished and bound, was like seeing it new all over again.

It should be shipping to stores in May, and I hope you love it as much as I do. (By the way, I just looked up the book listing on Amazon so I could link it for you and it’s on sale with a $10 discount at the moment.  You can also look inside it and see more of the book from that page now.  How fun is that?)

 

Today I wanted to introduce you to another quilt from the book, Meteor Shower.  This is a wallhanging size quilt.  It’s one that really shows off how you can play with shapes within hexagons.  See how the yellow and orange diamonds touch point-to-side?  It’s all about placement within larger block boundaries.

I’m especially proud of this quilt because I quilted it myself.  It’s not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but I really transcended my allover-quilting comfort zone and went custom on this one.

 

So what’s new in your world? Are you starting any exciting projects?  Have you seen something on pinterest that captured your imagination and made you want to learn a new technique? Besides prepping for Quilt Market, I’m kind of in a zone of finishing projects right now.  It needs to be done, but I’m also kind of ready to find something new and fun to play around with.  Any suggestions?

 

Happy Stitching!

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS- I’ve created a new pinterest board to feature quilts people have made with my patterns.  If you’ve made one, will you comment below, or send me an e-mail with pictures?  I’d love to include your work!!

 

Japanese Quilting Study Group- Focus on Hand Piecing

Welcome to a brand-new year of the Japanese Quilting Study Group!  For those of you new to the blog, this is a post series focused on Japanese quilting. You can see all posts in the series by clicking on the tab above. In years past, we’ve discussed lots about Yoko Saito and other Japanese master quilters, and even tried our hand at making quilts from Japanese patterns.  For those of you who have followed this group for years, my apologies for the lapse in posts.  I knew I wanted to try a new direction with this blog series, and it has taken me a while to figure out that direction.

I’ve been to several quilt shows with examples of Japanese quilts, and they’re even more amazing in person than in pictures.  What always impresses me most, though, is that they’re typically HAND PIECED. Seems crazy in today’s high tech world, doesn’t it? So my big question is, how do they hand-piece quilts so meticulously? And how do they consistently make dozens of quilts that way in a single year?

So, this year I’m working hard to improve my hand-piecing skills. One night while cruising on pinterest, I found an image of a Japanese quilt from the Tokyo show that captivated me.  I don’t know the name of the pattern, but imagine a 12-pointed star with pentagons and triangles as filler.  Or a completely pieced (no applique) dresden plate.  That’s kind of the look of the block.  I’ve found three different quilts made with this design, but so far I’ve had no luck in figuring out the name.  You can check out my pinterest board devoted to the subject here.

 

Eventually, I drafted my own templates to emulate this design in Adobe Illustrator.  Then I started cutting and marking fabric.  (If you follow me on IG, you’ve already seen some of these).  Here’s how far I’ve gotten on this little project.

So far, I’m loving it.  I’m not too worried about the centers of the stars aligning, as they’ll be covered with little fabric circles. The units piece together quickly. I wish I could find a good tutorial for matching the centers with this much fabric, but I haven’t come across one yet.

Soon after I started this project, I discovered patterns by Karen Tripp. And I just HAD to make her Obsession quilt.  Instead of doing it with EPP (too time-consuming for me, although she has lovely tutorials on EPP curves), I’m using her templates and hand-piecing.  Again, my points aren’t perfect.  But they’re improving with practice.  Here’s an in-progress photo of my blocks so far. The tricky combination of curves and points is intriguing to me, and it’s fun to piece.

But that’s enough about me and my questions about Japanese quilting. What do you admire most about Japanese quilts? Are you trying out any new techniques this year? Please share in the comments below so we can all encourage each other along this journey!

 

Happy Quilting!

 

Daylight Company Slimline LED Table Lamp and Wafer Light Box Review


At Quilt Market last fall, I met the lovely folks from the Daylight Company.  I almost walked right past their booth, as I’ve had my trusty OttLight for over 10 years, and have been quite content with it. But I’m so glad I did not walk past. These products have been true game changers for me.  Read on to find out why! (And if these sound good to you, there’s a special discount code at the end of the post, just for you!)

Slimline LED Table Lamp

Since I bought my Janome Artistic SD, I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to light the space.  The incandescent light that comes with the machine is cheaply made, and installation requires splicing wires. I got little stick-on LED lights to light under the arm, but that’s not where I need the light. I’ve used an Ott Light floor lamp, positioned to the left of the needle, but it’s always in my way, and wobbles when the quilt knocks into it. So, not the best circumstances for quilt lighting.

All that changed with the Daylight table lamp.  I was able to set the light up in under five minutes, and it came simply packaged with easy-to-follow instructions.  At first, I worried about the clamp.  I thought it might eventually vibrate loose.  I’ve quilted five quilts with this lamp, and the clamp has not budged a bit, so it’s quite secure. On my first quilt, I intended to switch between the Ott Light and the new light with every bobbin change, to see if the light was really different. But I quickly abandoned that plan, as the Ott Light simply was not bright enough after using the Daylight.

Some features I love about the Daylight lamp:

-Very slim design, so it doesn’t interfere with my ability to see the quilt.

-Super bright light, making it easier for me to see the thread and subtle tension issues

-Comfortable light, even though it’s bright,my eyes don’t feel strained even after a couple of hours sewing.

I even started hand sewing at my quilting table because of that light.  I know, it looks silly to have hand piecing by a midarm quilting machine, but the light is simply THAT GOOD.

Wafer Light Box

Confession: I did not previously own a light box of any type.  My idea of using a light box was taping a paper to a bright window, holding fabric on top of the paper and tracing. Was it comfortable? No. Cheap? Yes. Frustrating? Absolutely. I have five kids. Let’s just say, that if I’m trying to trace something precisely  onto fabric for embroidery or applique, my chances of achieving that on a bright sunny day while the kids are around are nil. Most of the time, my opportunities for tracing something onto fabric were between 11 pm and 1 am.  And it’s kind of tough to find a sunny window at that time.

I LOVE the Wafer Light Box.  It’s thin, and lightweight, so it stores easily. Just like the LED lamp, the light is bright but easy on the eyes. I used it to trace lettering for a baby announcement quilt.  (At night, I might add!). It was super-easy to see the paper through the fabric, and tracing went quickly.  Last time I used the bright window method, I discovered the light was insufficient to trace onto saturated fabric, like the Moda Grunge  that I adore using.  However, I could see the lettering no problem through the same fabric using the Wafer. My kids love using the Wafer for their school projects too. It even has a dimming feature, so you can adjust the light to whatever intensity works best for you.

In the picture above, I have an applique layout under the fabric. Then I can lay the pieces out on the fabric exactly where they need to go.  I’m still learning on the applique, but this is SO much easier than trying to line up the patches any other way.

I’ve been using both this light and light box in my studio for several months now, and I’m absolutely thrilled with both of them. The folks at the Daylight Company gave me both of these products to try out. But if you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know I don’t review products unless I use them myself. So, if you’re interested in trying out their products, you can go to the Daylight Company website.  Using the code TCQ0217 will give you a discount on the Wafer 1 lightbox, the Wafer 2 Lightbox and the Slimline S LED Table Lamp. (This is a little smaller than mine, the Slimline LED table lamp- but that one’s out of stock right now).

Now, back to work on that applique!

Happy Stitching!

A LOVERLY Valentine’s Day to You!

Today I would like to introduce you to Loverly, a sweet and simple table runner featured in my new book, Adventures in Hexagons!


Although this table runner appears at the beginning of the book, I designed it at the end of the book creating process.  When I started reviewing projects and instructions, I realized that I needed a simple project to introduce concepts before leaping straight in to larger quilts.

Here’s a picture from IG when I first started working on the project. Hard to imagine that was already more than a year ago!  Such a challenge to keep projects a secret!!

 

Multi-Size hexagon blocks

Loverly plays with two block sizes from the book: Singles and Triples. I love the ability to feature different sizes of design elements in a hexagon quilt.  No one-patch layouts here! The mini-quilts below illustrate the concept of varying sizes of hexagon motifs. I’ll introduce you to the other three motifs in later posts. Every quilt in my book draws from this concept of using fabric placement to convey the idea of multi-sized elements.

 

This fall, I hope to start teaching classes from my book.  I’m making two more color versions of Loverly: one patriotic, and one in harvest colors, to use as class samples.  I’m piecing mine by hand, because I love the simple rhythm of hand-sewing. However, you could just as easily make this runner with Inklingo, English Paper Piecing, or by machine.

What’s your favorite way to sew hexagons?

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

 

 

Quilty Goals and Finishes for January

February is here already, and in my little corner of Texas, it feels more like April.  However, I’m certainly not complaining about sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s! Quite a bit has been happening behind the scenes here at the Caffeinated Quilter, and I wanted to catch you up on January’s adventures, and progress made on my quilty goals.

 

Quilt Finishes!

First, the fun!  January is always a bit quieter with the kids’ schedules, and I get a little time to catch up on projects.  I was super excited to finish this Spin! quilt I started last May.  All it needs now is a label and a ride to its new home.

Second, I finished this year’s kindergarten quilt project for the kids’ school.  Every year, the kindergarten classes bring in special squares of fabric from home. Then they make handprints in class. I get to take the fabric and handprints and turn them into baby quilts.  Our church’s Gabriel Project then delivers the quilts to expectant mommies in tough situations.  I know the babies will love the bright colors, and I hope the moms and dads will feel wrapped in the love and support of our community when they use the quilts.

Finally, I made some long-overdue progress on my sister’s double wedding ring quilt.  I am NEARLY halfway to having all of the blocks made.  Hey, it’s all about the degrees of doneness, right?

 

 

Business Goals Accomplished!

By now, I hope you’ve noticed some new changes to the website.  I’m working hard to really develop consistent branding between the website, my patterns, and upcoming book.  I’m certainly still learning, and would welcome your comments and suggestions for ways to improve the website. Next month, I’m planning to refresh the Japanese Quilting Study Group pages and make them easier to navigate. Then I hope to set up a more user-friendly means of accessing all the fun tutorials I’ve created over the years.  There’s a bunch of them, some even I had forgotten about!

I’m also really stoked about our new facebook group for Janome Artistic Quilter SD users.  If you haven’t yet, please sign up!  Even if you own a different sit-down longarm, I think the group will be beneficial as we all share tips and tricks to make using these machines simpler and more fun.

 

What’s on Tap for February?

If you’re following along with the 2017 UFO Challenge from All People Quilt, the number for February is 8.  I admit, I groaned at that one.  My #8 is quite literally the oldest UFO on my list.  I inherited this quilt top from grandmother. She started making it in the early ’80s for my aunt.  It’s all hand applique, and way out of my usual comfort zone.  However, I know both my aunt and I will be tickled pink to see this quilt complete.  This is the year, and I am determined to complete this quilty goal!

Along with my UFO progress in February, I will start sharing some sneak peeks of my book, Adventures in Hexagons, coming out in May.  I will also post about a couple of FANTASTIC products from the Daylight company. Finally, I’ll be releasing a new quilt pattern, and a mini-version of the pattern. Here’s a little sneak peek of the mini version:

 

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the blog, and follow along on social media so you don’t miss out on any of the fun stuff!

What are your quilty goals for February?

Happy Stitching!

New Page for Janome Artistic Quilter Information!

 

Just wanted to create a quick post to let you know about a new page on my website.  Midarm quilting continues to be one of the most popular categories here at the Caffeinated Quilter, so I’ve built a page to corral all the wonderful information about the Janome Artistic Sit Down machine in one easy-to-find place.  Please let me know if I’m missing important information. Y’all have chimed in with lots of great tips and tricks in the comments of blog posts, and I want to make sure those tips are accessible to others as well.

And if you’d like to be part of a new facebook group I’m starting for Janome Artistic SD Quilter owners, e-mail me and I’ll add you to the beta list!  It’s going to be a great place to share ideas, help each other troubleshoot problems, and share quilting pictures.

What do you think of the new page? And the overall website changes lately?

Happy Stitching!

 

Tiny Wildflowers Tutorial

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to clean up and improve my website, and this little tutorial needed to move from its own page to a simple post format.  So enjoy this little “throwback” tutorial from 2011! Here’s hoping I get the whole redirect link thing right!!

 Supplies needed

Using your Texas Wildflower Mix Set I directions, you can make these wonderful wildflower pins.  You will need:

  • 1/4″ precut hexagons
  • scraps of blue, white, yellow and brown fabric
  • coordinating all-purpose thread
  • basting glue (I recommend Roxanne basting glue for this)
  • 18 gauge cloth stem wire
  • 1/4″ wide ribbon
  • tacky glue
  • small pin back
  • Texas Wildflower Mix Set I pattern
  • hand sewing needle, thimble, scissors

Create the flowers

First, cut squares from your fabric scraps,  7/8″ on each side, in the quantities listed in the pattern.  I recommend using inexpensive fabric for this project. I love the quality of quilt store fabric, but it’s a little too thick for hexagons this small.  JoAnn’s fabric and batiks lend themselves well to these tiny hexagons.

Next, baste these squares to the paper hexagons (you will NOT be removing the hexagons) using basting glue.

Follow the directions for the Bluebonnet and Coreopsis in the Texas Wildflower Mix Set I pattern to sew the hexagons together.  You do not need to trim your thread between seams, just run your needle through the seam allowance to where you want to start the next seam.  Take tiny stitches, you only need about three or four on each side of the hexies.

Before joining the two sides of the bluebonnet together, sew a small pin back to the front of one of the bluebonnets.  Then try it on to make sure the pin opens and closes in a way that’s easy for you to attach to your garment.

Then, finish the flowers as described in the pattern, using a 3-4 inch single length of the cloth-wrapped wire for the stems.  After you’ve finished the flower, trim the wire to a suitable length and put a dot of glue on the end to keep the cloth from unraveling.

Tie the bluebonnet and Coreopsis together with ribbon.  Finally, put a dot of glue over the ribbon knot to keep it secure.

Enjoy!

Color Options for Texas Wildflower Mix Set I

Follow the bluebonnet pattern, but substitute four shades of burgundy for the four shades of blue to make an Aggie maroon bluebonnet.  Otherwise known as an Aggiebonnet.  No, I’m not making this up!  See Aggiebonnet  for a picture of the real thing.

Follow the primrose pattern, but subsitute yellow for the pink for a Beach Evening Primrose.  Or, you can substitute dark fuschia for the pink to make a Winecup.

Studio Organizing with Purpose

Over New Year’s weekend, I decided to start organizing my studio.  As you can see from the picture below, it was getting a little embarrassing, and the mess was completely killing my creativity.  What started with simply trying to put fabric away turned into a complete studio overhaul. Along the way, I discovered that the more I tried to turn my studio into my “private quilt store”, the better I was able to understand how to put things away in a manner that made sense for me.

before-picture

Organizing Fabric

I started out with seven 56-gallon tubs filled to OVERFLOWING with fabric. I did not sort all of it.  That would have taken me months, and I probably would have gotten discouraged along the way and quit.  To start, I dumped out three bins worth of fabric. One of those bins became my “warm” color bin, the second my “cool” color bin, and the third my “neutrals and prints” bin.  Then, my daughters and I started sorting the piles of dumped out fabric back into the bins.  I gave away some fabric that I knew I would never use.

As we came across large pieces of fabric (more than one yard), we folded it over magazine boards.  I got this idea from So Sew Easy. My husband was going to the comic book store anyway, and he got this pack of 100 boards for about $13.  I think about 50 folded bolts fit into this 56 gallon tub.

folded-fabric-minibolts

For smaller pieces of fabric, we used the folding video tutorials from In Color Order, and made a little display of fabric in a wire bin from the Container Store. Just like with the larger fabric folded bolts, I picked fabrics for the small bin that I wanted to use sooner than later.

small-folded-fabric

Over the years, I have accumulated a precious stash of Alison Glass fabrics, and I wanted to keep these together for an upcoming project.  So I arranged them all in a pretty basket, along with the EPP papers I’ll be using.  This looks much more inviting than the previous pile on the floor!

alison-glass-basket

Finally, I dealt with a bin of fabric for an ongoing baby quilt project. Each year, my kids’ school makes baby quilts for moms in crisis pregnancies. I make two quilts a year, and the kids bring in special fabrics for the quilts. They usually bring in much more than the recommended 8” square. After doing this for 10 years, I have a huge stash of baby quilt fabric.  I keep meaning to go through it and make additional baby quilts, but the magnitude of fabric overwhelms me.

In the spirit of making my own private quilt store, I pulled out my favorite quick-quilt pattern, Yellow Brick Road.  Then my girls and I chose fabrics from the donation bin and made six “quilt kits.” Each ziploc has enough fabric to make a baby quilt from the Yellow Brick Road pattern.  Now, whenever I need an easy, mindless afternoon of sewing, I can pull out one of these bags and make a quilt without having to worry about choosing and measuring fabrics.

homemade-quilt-kits

 

Now, my fabrics are “organized enough” to motivate me to start sewing.  And all of the bins close without sitting on them!  Once I go through some of the “featured fabrics” shown above, I’ll go back to the bins and fold and sort more to feature. I love how manageable this system feels, and how inspired I am everytime I see the pretty fabrics on my new shelves.

Organizing Projects

Confession: I have enough UFO’s to complete TWO APQ resolution pages. Yes, 24 UFO’s. That has to change, and I am bound and determined to whittle that list down this year. Again, I have to “see” what I’m working on to stay motivated.  So I made a couple of mini-design boards by pinning batting to artist canvases.  I also use leftover lids from broken plastic bins to store projects I’m working on.

project-boards

During the overhaul, my husband got me a set of sturdy wire shelves to store fabric. Now I can just pull out the bin I need (instead of unstacking boxes all the time). Even better, the shelves have just enough room to slide a project board on top of each box, so I can keep my UFO’s in sight, but not too cluttered.

Organizing Notions

Last but not least, I FINALLY found a way to organize my most-used rulers. These are usually out on my sewing counter, or propped up on the floor near my sewing counter.  Which means I’m always losing them, tripping over them, or worse, cutting my toes along the edges of them. (true story). I bought some inexpensive coffee cup hooks at World Market, and hung them from the sides of the new shelves.

hanging-rulers

Now they’re easy to find, and impossible to trip over. I also hung a roll of masking tape on one of the cup hooks, which I guesstimate will save about 20 minutes per quilt.  Everyone in the house uses masking tape, so I can never find it when I’m ready to baste a quilt. Now my roll is hung high enough that the kids will never snag it.

So that’s my studio makeover.  I estimate it cost me about $70 for the shelves, magazine boards, and cup hooks. Here’s how the studio looks now:

after-picture

 

Still far from perfect, but FAR more inviting and accessible than it has been. I love my new private quilt “store”, and spent the entire past weekend in it, sewing with my girls.  Now, to tackle those UFO lists. .  . .

What’s your favorite way to organize your quilting space?

Happy Stitching!

emily